Citing conflicting witness accounts, the city prosecutor will not pursue Tehmi Chassion's allegation of simple battery against Superintendent Pat Cooper.
|LPSB's Tehmi Chassion shares a moment with fellow board member Rae Trahan.|
Lafayette Parish School Board member Tehmi Chassion's allegation of simple battery against Superintendent Pat Cooper will not be pursued by the city prosecutor's office.
It's been about five months since the alleged altercation between Chassion and the superintendent unfolded during a closed-door executive session at one of the board's more contentious meetings. After calling the Lafayette Police Department to the meeting, Chassion claimed the superintendent grabbed his shoulder, shouted in his ear and spun him around in his swivel chair.
Chassion's story, however, didn't match the facts, as seen with Tuesday's response by city prosecutor Gary Haynes to a text message sent by The IND asking for an update on the case.
Haynes responded Tuesday evening with a press release explaining that due to conflicting witness statements his office will not be accepting Chassion's case.
The Lafayette Police Department did not file charges against anyone due to conflicting statements of eyewitnesses, but compiled a report from the investigation.
I concur with the investigating police officer's findings. Accordingly, this office refused the complaint because the facts, as written by the witnesses, will not reasonably result in a conviction.
The prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the violator used force or violence' and the conflicting statements preclude such a finding.
Despite lingering for close to five months, Haynes' decision shouldn't come as too much of a surprise considering Chassion's eagerness to involve police at board meetings over the last two years. The first time involved this reporter, with Chassion claiming he'd been accosted in a school board bathroom after refusing to comment on his previous arrest related to counterfeit money charges. Though that alleged battery was sent to Haynes' office for review, the outcome was the same. No charges, no case.
Now, with Haynes' decision in the bag, new questions arise: Is it okay for a public official to use local law enforcement like political pawns? And how many times will Chassion be allowed to call police to board meetings with bogus assault claims before he's charged for filing a false police report?
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